Copyright 2017 Mario V. Farina
Shakespir Edition, License Notes
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Mario V. Farina
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This is another story involving the antics of Fred Harris. When you last read about him in my story, Earth Pilot Jane’s Greatest Exploit, Fred had disobeyed his professor’s orders not to touch anything in the lab. He had, however, done exactly that. In the story, you’ll recall that he took Jane Wilcox on a space-jaunt to Mars. He had then gotten into trouble with Martians and had had to be rescued by Jane. The weirdest part of the entire experience is that he had piloted Planet Earth on that trip, thus endangering the lives of seven billion human beings.
Somehow, during and investigation, Professor Henry Hardisty had come to his defense by claiming that Fred had only been doing his, the professor’s bidding. Unbelievably, Professor Hardisty had kept him on, and had actually given him additional assignments.
In this new story, the professor had been investigating how time behaves. It was his conjecture that time travels to an end point, then reverses back to a beginning point, with the cycle repeating time after time after time. He had built a huge hanger-like structure in RPI’s Field House, and had been doing experiments attempting to determine whether his speculations about time was correct. He was using Fred Harris as his assistant. Today, he was in the large Geneva building auditorium explaining to a group of scientists what he had learned about time and about an experiment he was soon to undertake with Fred’s assistant. He had left Fred in the Field House with instructions not to touch anything.
Fred was in the field house speaking on his cell phone to Jane.
“Jane, this is super exciting,” he said. I’m in the Field House. I’m on a platform inside a huge lab. On one side of the platform, time is functioning normally. However, if I step off the platform on to a track on the other side, time will be moving backwards. Professor Hardisty is explaining an experiment that he and I are going to do. There is a group of very smart individuals in the conference room where he is speaking, and after he has told them what he plans to do, he will bring them here, then I will step off the platform on the track that goes backwards.”
“That’s amazing, Fred,” commented Jane. “Will you be all right? Is there any danger?”
“No danger at all, Jane. Professor Hardisty has assured me of this. When I begin going backwards, I can get back onto the platform whenever I please, and everything be all right. Professor Hardisty will be watching to make sure I’m OK!”
“What happens if you don’t get off the track,” Jane asked.
“According to the professor, I’ll simply begin getting younger and younger. Everything will seem normal. When people are going backwards, everything is just as normal to them, as it is to you and me when time is moving forward. However, instead of people getting older, they will be getting younger. It’s possible, for people to become children again, then babies!”
“They get unborn!”
“Fred, for goodness sakes, don’t forget to get off that track!”
Fred laughed. “No I won’t forget, even if I get a little younger, I can walk back to the place where I got on to the track and get back on the platform. I will then be just as old as I was before I got onto the backwards track.”
“Oh, Fred, please be careful. This sounds dangerous!”
“I’m at the edge of the platform now, Jane. I’m going to step onto the track to see what happens.”
“No! No! Don’t do that. Didn’t Professor Hardisty tell you to wait until he was with you? Don’t you remember what happened when you disobeyed his orders, and you took Planet Earth on a trip to Mars, and I brought it back? I’m not there with you. If you get into trouble, I won’t be able to rescue you like I did then!”
“Oh, it will only be for a minute. I’ll be all right. Professor Hardisty will never know. Stand by. I’m going to do it now.”
“No!” She screamed.
Her warning had had no effect. He had stepped off the platform, and was on the track.
“Jane,” said Fred. “This is weird! I’m standing on the platform and I’m moving backwards on the track even though I’m facing in the other direction. It’s moving pretty fast. The track is ending but I’m still moving. I’m on the street still moving. Now, I’m on 15th Street near People’s. I can see the field house, but I need to get back to it. I’m beginning to walk toward it.”
“Tell me you’re getting closer it,” said Jane. “Please!”
“Somehow I’m moving faster than the professor I had expected! I’m walking toward the field house but instead of getting closer, I’m falling behind. I’m going to start running to it.”
“How are you doing? How are you doing? Are you getting closer?”
“Yes, but I’m running as fast as I can, and am only gaining a little. I’m getting tired! I’m getting tired! I need to stop and rest.”
“Fred this is horrible. You gotta get back inside the field house, to that platform. Get somebody to help you.”
“They won’t be able to help me,” cried out Fred. “All the people are moving backwards. Even the cars. I can’t run anymore! I’ve got to rest.”
“Where are you?”
“I’m half-way down People’s. I’m scared!”
“How can I help you, Fred?”
“I don’t know. Even though I’ve stopped running, I’m still moving backwards. It’s like the street is moving and I can’t get off. I’m in downtown Troy. I see the Congress Street Bridge. I’m moving towards it! I may end up in the Hudson River! Help me, Jane! Help me!”
“Fred, I don’t know what I can do. Oh, wait a minute. There’s a call waiting. It’s Professor Hardisty’s number. Hold on. I’ll get right back to you.”
A minute elapsed. To Fred it felt like an hour. He was on the Congress Street Bridge moving backwards. It was all he could do to avoid being hit by cars speeding backwards.
“Fred.” It was Jane. “I just spoke to Professor Hardisty. He asked me if I knew where you were. I told him you were lost in time. He understood what that meant immediately. Where are you now?”
“I’m in Watervliet. I’ll be going up the hill soon heading toward Latham. I’m having a hard time keeping away from the cars. I don’t think they see me. I don’t want to get hit by any. What did Professor Hardisty say?”
“He was very angry about what you did. He said he could’ve stopped it right away if he had been with you. Now it’s going to be harder. He’s in the field house, and is going to push the switch that stops your movement. But he said he’s not going to do that right away. He said he doesn’t want to set eyes on you for a whole week. He said he’s going home and wait until he feels that you’ve gotten young enough to know better.”
“Jane! I can’t stand a week of this! How will I eat? Where will I sleep? How will I keep from getting killed by cars? Please tell the professor that I’m sorry, and I’m never disobey him again. Please! I don’t know how to live in the world going backwards!”
“Fred,” I convinced him that you had learned your lesson. He’s going to give you time to arrive in Latham. Then he’ll stop the backwards movement. At that point you’ll be on your own. Serves you right! I’m going to hang up now. When you get back, don’t bother calling me. I won’t answer. I’ll get back to you eventually, but don’t hold your breath waiting!”